Updated: May 9, 2021
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close
What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
What causes mental illnesses in young adults?
Adolescence (10–19 years) is a unique and formative time. Multiple physical, emotional and social changes, including exposure to poverty, abuse, or violence, can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems.
Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
Alarmingly, however, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
The emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young adults to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.
More than 11% of adolescents and teens report experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the last year, and the numbers continue to climb. 7% of youth (or 1.8 million adolescents and teens) experience severe depression. These youth experienced very serious bullying or interference in school, home and in relationships.
More than 5% of American teenagers report having a substance use or alcohol problem. 50% of mental health issues are established by the age of 14, and 75% by age 24. There is a nearly two-fold increase in mood disorders from 13 to 18, from 8.4% to 15.4%. Depression and bipolar disorder affect approximately 14% of youth age 13-17
Does Technology play a role in your Mental Health?
Advances in technology mean today's teens are facing issues that no previous generation has ever seen. While some issues are not exactly new, electronic media has changed or amplified some of the struggles young people face. The presence of digital communication has changed the way teens interact with their peers. Because of this, many teens lack essential interpersonal communication skills like knowing how to pick up on social cues. Much of this dysfunction can be linked to the overuse of technology. Teens social media and texting habits as well as how they consume media is changing the way they communicate, date, learn, sleep, exercise, and more. In fact, the average teen spends over nine hours each day using their electronic devices.
About 13% of teenagers may experience depression before reaching adulthood. An analysis by the Pew Research Center reported that depression rates grew among adolescents, especially in girls, over the previous decade when about 8% of teens reported being depressed in 2007. Some researchers blame technology for the rise in mental health problems. Spending too much time on electronic devices may be preventing young people from in-person activities with their peers such as sports, which can help ward off depression. They also experience new conditions like "fear of missing out" or FOMO, which further leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
How Bullying Affects Mental Health
Bullying can affect mental, physical and emotional health during school years and into adulthood. It can lead to physical injury, social or emotional problems and in some cases, even death.
Bullied children and teens are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and sometimes long-term damage to self-esteem. Victims often feel lonely. Some victims may fight back with extreme, sudden violence; Research suggests that in 12 of 15 school shootings, the shooters had been bullied.
Bullies are at higher risk for antisocial, sometimes violent behaviors like getting into fights and destroying property. They often have problems with school, up to and including dropping out. They’re more likely to abuse substances and alcohol. This can continue into adulthood, when they are more likely to abuse their partners and spouses, or their children, or to engage in criminal behavior.
How to overcome Mental Health Problems and take care of your Mental Health
Value Yourself- Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism
Take Care of your body- Exercise, eat nutritious meals, and drink plenty of water.
Surround yourself with good people- People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people.
Give Yourself- Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You'll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it's a great way to meet new people.
Learn how to deal with Stress- Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life.
Quiet your Mind- Try meditating. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life.
Set Realistic Goals- Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don't over-schedule.
Break up the monotony- Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule.
Avoid alcohol and other drugs- Keep your alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to "self-medicate" but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.
Get help when you need it- Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.
“Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” – Noam Shpancer
How to cope with stress- https://uhs.umich.edu/oneminute
For Americans- https://www.mhanational.org/
For Canadians- https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/
More Resources for Teens- Resources for adolescents and teens
Are you being bullied and do you need help? Check out https://www.letsdefeatbullying.com/